Monday, 19 March 2018

London day 2

I rise at half eight. Teeth brushed, I head downstairs for breakfast. A bacon-led event.

That’s weird. The breakfast room is closed. I ask someone at the desk where it is. “Down to the end and on your left.”

It seems that they’re just using a corner of it while the rest is renovated. When I’m at the buffet a waitress tell me to use a large plate for the hot stuff. Then piles four slices of bacon on it. It seems churlish to put one back. I’ll just have the one egg, then.

The breakfast room was oddly quiet. I realise why, when I switch on the news back in my room. It’s an hour earlier than I thought. I forgot my watch was still on Dutch time. What a schoolboy error.

I meet Mike Siegel outside the Market Porter in borough market at 10:30. We’re going to take a stroll down Park Street to the Anchor. He’s disappointed that the pub isn’t open.

“It’s one of the last pubs that opens at 6 AM. I guess it’s closed because it’s the weekend.” Mike says.

You used to be able to drink 24 hours a day in London, even before the licensing hours changed. There were pubs that opened weird hours close to market. And the railway yards at Stratford.

While we’re waiting for the others, we take a look in Utobeer, the beer shop in Borough Market. Never been there before. I see lots of familiar favourites, including De Molen. It’s fun staring longingly at beer you’ve no intention of buying. Not even the Schlenkerla Helles, tempting as that is. As tempting as a bacon sandwich with slabs of cheese replacing bread. Deep fried.

On the way to the Anchor, I show Mike what’s left of the Barclay Perkins brewery: two brewers’ houses. A stern “Take Courage” slogan still visible on the gable end. There’s that and the plaque commemorating Barclay Perkins’ draymen beating up Austrian general Haynau in 1850. Good on them. He was a bastard who had women flogged.

Not yet noon and the Anchor is pretty empty. Just someone telling an obviously new member of staff the table numbers. I don’t mind. I hate crowds.

Out of the handles on the bar. Truman Swift catches my eye. It’s a bit hazy. Is it supposed to be like that? Mike seems to think it tastes OK. We have the one, then head off to The Rake. I’ve not been there since the launch of Brewery Yard, the beer I did with Goose Island.

Being still pretty early, there are only a few other customers. That doesn’t worry me. I hate crowds. The busier a pub is, the longer you have to wait for your pint. And I hate waiting for beer.

I ask for a Heavy Industry Collaborator.

The barman asks “Do you want a pint or a half.”

“A pint. I don’t do halves. Not even of Imperial Stout.”

There’s a big lump of Lancashire cheese on the table, purchased at the cheesemonger on Park Street. Mike gets out a pork pie, bought in the market. We all get stuck into the cheese.

“What would you like next, Ron.”

The Garden Croatian Imperial Stout has caught my eye. Should I have a third or a half?

“I’ll have a half of the Imperial Stout.”

“I thought you didn’t do halves?”

Damn me and my big mouth. It is just about afternoon. “OK. OK, a pint of Imperial Stout.” Just as well I didn’t ask for a third.

It is rather nice. And full of alcoholey goodness. Warming me from the inside out.

I fetch my next beer. “A pint of Imperial Stout, please.”

“Are you Ron?” the barmaid asks.

How on earth did she guess that?

Mike Hill, one of the owners of The Rake turns up and chats with us. He has great stories, some of them even fit for publication.

We don’t stay too long. We’ve an appointment with heaven. At least heaven on earth. The Royal Oak is just a refreshing stroll away. For me Mike Siegel and Johnny. The others are heading off doing their own stuff for a while. They’ll meet up with us later.

It’s pretty empty, just four or five other customers. I don’t mind. I hate crowds. Fuck, I love this pub.

I planned on starting with a Mild. But the Old is just too tempting. It’s sort of strong Mild, anyway. It’s gorgeous. Balancing effortlessly on that razorblade between drinkability and flavour. Fuck, I love Harvey’s.

We order a selection of meals, which we share. Pub tapas. All classic British stuff: fish and chips, bangers and mash, bubble and squeak, pie. Real health food stuff. I’m not that hungry, but nibble at a few bits anyway.

The Old is disappearing pleasantly down my throat. Fuck, I love Harvey’s. I could happily drink nothing else for the rest of my life.

We eventually reluctantly leave the Royal Oak. Some of the crew want to drop by Oxford Street. Close to Oxford Circus. For shopping or other such nonsense. I have something slightly different in mind.

“We could go to the Argyll Arms.” I suggest. “It’s just around the back of Oxford Circus. The interior is magnificent.”

We duly jump on a tube. Some shop, others pub, bound.

The Argyll Arms is pretty full so we can’t sit in one of the little booths. But we do find seats at the back. What should I drink? I know, let’s have a beer for a change.

I’m a good boy. I only stay for a couple of pints. I’m back in my hotel room in time to watch Match of the Day.

The Market Porter
9 Stoney St,
London SE1 9AA.
Tel: +44 20 7407 2495

24 Borough Market,
London SE1 1TL.
Tel: +44 20 7378 6617

Anchor Bankside
34 Park St,
London SE1 9EF.
Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 12AM
Tel: +44 20 7407 1577

The Rake
14A Winchester Walk,
London SE1 9AG.
Tel: +44 20 7407 0557

The Royal Oak
44 Tabard St,
London SE1 4JU.
Tel: +44 20 7357 7173

Argyll Arms
18 Argyll St,
London W1F 7TP.
Tel: +44 20 7734 6117

Goose Island paid for my travelling expenses to London and for quite a lot of food and drink while I was there. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

London by train

This is exciting. I’ve never gone to the UK by train before.

I don’t have to rise that early. My train is just after nine. A lie in, compared to my workday routine.

Trying to zip up my main bag is a challenge. Resolved mostly by Dolores. Totally by Dolores, really. Unless you count unhelpful suggestions.

I transfer some contents to the bag containing my laptop. Did I accidentally leave a gold bar in it? So heavy it makes my wrist ache. Despite the offloading, my trolley bag still feels as if it’s concealing a baby rhino. But at least it’s closed. It’s going to be fun hunking that around.

I’ve taken the shuttle through the tunnel when me and Mikey went to Folkestone, but never the Eurostar. They’ll be running direct trains to Amsterdam from London next month. But the other way you’ll still need to change in Brussels as they haven’t arranged the international treaty required. At least that’s what they say.

My journey is even more complicated than that. The Benelux train isn’t runnng as far as Amsterdam, currently. I need to change in Rotterdam and Brussels. Making it a much longer journey than necessary. As usual, the train is mobbed, despite being in the first carriage. I dread to think what it’s like further back.

I’ve come prepared. Sandwiches I made this morning and a few cans I picked up yesterday in Ton Overmars. They don’t have a great can selection, but it’s better and cheaper beer than I’d find in the station. I’ve got three cans of Stone Arrogant Bastard and a couple of their other beers. I crack the first Bastard as we pull out of Schiphol.

There’s a bit of hanging around at Rotterdam Centraal. Not been here much since it was rebuilt. At least it has a full roof now, which is an improvement. Luckily, my connection is on the same platform. Did another rhino sneak into my bag when my back was turned?

I crack the second Bastard as we emerge from the tunnel under the Maas. It’s good to see the back of Rotterdam, dump that it is. Having lived in the city, I feel I’m qualified to say that. Perhaps I’m a little harsh.

On reflection, no, I’m not.

I haven’t too long to wait in Brussels, though I do need to check in and have my bags X-rayed. Now where’s my ticket and passport?

“Is this someone’s?” one of the security guards asks holding up my ticket and passport. I’ve left them in the tray. Now there’s stupid. I really should know better, given how much I travel.

I wait until we’re clear of the Brussels suburbs before popping the third and final Bastard. Brewed in Berlin, obviously. I’ve no idea how closely it resembles the San Diego version as I’ve never drunk that. It’s pleasant enough in an Americaney hoppy sort of way.

It’s weird when we pop out of the tunnel. Partly because we don’t stop in Folkestone. But also because I’ve never been on a train going genuinely high speed in the UK before. I open a Stone mocha Stout thing to celebrate. Eventually, they’ll have a high speed network in the UK. Just when the first skin of ice is starting to form over hell.

I’m walking to my hotel, as it’s only 10 or 12 minutes away from St. Pancras. But my luggage is quite heavy. Those rhinos are now the happy parents of twins.

I need to pause for breath. Where better than the Euston Flyer? I have to walk right past. It is bad luck to pass an open pub, after all. I have a quick pint of ESB. Very nice it is, too. No time to linger, though. I’ve people to meet and beer to drink.

I really love the oddness of St Pancras New Church. With a sort Greek temple thing going on. And the female statues acting as pillars.  There are a couple of weird statues in front of its Euston Road side. I think they fit in quite well. Not sure why. Maybe because the church itself is a bit strange.

I don’t do much more than check in and dump my bags. I’m relieved. They now drag at my arms as if a third generation of rhinos has arrived. I shouldn’t have brought all that cheese. Though the beer is quite heavy, too. Those Brewery Yard bottles are like exercise clubs.

Time to tube.

Changing at Green Park, I regret my choice of route. There’s a walk of three or four miles between the Piccadilly line and Northern Line platforms. This is what happens when you don’t travel regularly by tube. You get sucked in by seemingly simple routes, not realising you’ll be a tomb raider, navigating endless underground passageways, hoping eventually to reach the treasure of your connecting train.

When I lived in London, I knew which connections to avoid. I’m a local no more.

Emerging from Old Street tube, I’m confused. Which way is it? Doesn’t help that there are no street signs on any of the roads. I walk a random direction and look at the name of the first side street. Which I look up in my A to Z*. Brill. I picked the right way.

I used to work not far from here. In that arms factory. I can’t recognise anything. It was all a very long time ago. 1979, to be precise. The first time I lived in London. Happy days. No. not really. I was glad to get away.

It’s raining when I get to the Artillery Arms. A compact, dark wood sort of place, bustling with punters. Never been here before, but it seems a decent pub. With, like most Fullers pubs, a pub theme. I quite like pubs that look, smell and feel like pubs.

I’m the first. The others arrive when I’m a few sips into my ESB. Mike Siegel and a crew from Goose Island in Chicago and ABI people from the UK. Plus Derek Prentice and Hugo Anderson, both London brewers. Derek worked at Trumans, Youngs and Fullers before his current gig at Wimbledon. Hugo is now retired after a career at Watney.

I chat with Hugo about Watney beers and all the ullage they contained. He’s remarkably upfront and upbeat about it. “We never brewed a drop of Star Light.” No wonder it had such a great reputation. Look it up on the internet.

Hugo has a big, old-fashioned suitcase. In it are two Reid’s Porter brewing books. I’m a bit nervous when he puts them on a table, in the near presence of pints. I wouldn’t want them getting damaged.

Looking through the logs with Derek and Hugo is a great experience. After a while I realise something. The 1820 one is in the same format as the later Reid records I have, from the 1840’s through to the 1870’s. But the 1837-38 they have at the Westminster City Archives is completely different, like a Truman’s or old BP log. It can’t be Reid. Who could it be? Anyone but Reid, Meux, Barclay Perkins, Whitbread or Truman. Combe, perhaps?

On the way over to where we’ll dine, we nip into the yard of the former Whitbread brewery. And gaze up towards the awesome wonder of the Porter Tun Room, where massive vats of Brown Beer used to ripen. But which we can’t really see, save for an odd glimpse through a high window.

Sad brewing ended here after a few centuries. Never got to taste any beer from it myself, even though I was drinking when it closed in 1974.

Our destination has a slight Whitbread connection. Well, quite a big one, really. It’s the former brewery tap, now called The Jugged Hare. Should I ever get my time machine working, it’s one of the places I’ll be drinking Porter. A brewery tap being about the only place I’d trust wasn’t fucking with the beer.

We sit in the restaurant and order ourselves the house Bitter. It’s on the cloudy side. But who knows if that’s a fault nowadays or not? And just because a beer isn’t fined, doesn’t mean it should be cloudy. Brewed right, beer will drop bright. If you’re patient.

John Hall, Goose Island’s founder, trundles in after a while. He’s always good fun. And a really nice bloke. We eat a little and drink rather more. Beer is such a social drink.

We finish in the Ye Olde Mitre, off Hatton Garden. Not that far from where the Reid brewery was located. Another Fullers pub, this time hidden down an alleyway. It’s pretty full, but we manage to squeeze into the public bar. What to drink? ESB seems like a good idea. I’ve been drinking it most of the day.

I don’t stay out too late. Busy day tomorrow.

* A sort of analogue Google map, printed on paper and bound as a book. Each page contains a map of a small section of London. Taken as a whole, it forms a street map of all London. An index allows you to locate a street, not just by page, but by a section of a page.

The Euston Flyer
83-87 Euston Rd,
London NW1 2RA
Tel: +44 20 7383 0856

Artillery Arms
102 Bunhill Row,
London EC1Y 8ND.
Tel: +44 20 7253 4683

The Jugged Hare
49 Chiswell St,
London EC1Y 4SA.
Tel: +44 20 7614 0134

Ye Olde Mitre
1 Ely Pl,
London EC1N 6SJ
Tel: +44 20 7405 4751

Goose Island paid for my travelling expenses to London and for quite a lot of food and drink while I was there.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

My latest books

Just a reminder of my two most recent, wonderful books.

First, Let's Brew, which is packed with all sorts of exciting historic recipes, including Lagers and North American beers. The majority have never appeared in this blog. Every homebrewer whould own a copy.

Second is the definitive history of Scottish beer over the last 150 years or so. Other than a few recipes, of which there are almost 400, all the material is new. 

Just think of poor Alexei. His bottle of gin is almost empty. Please help him buy a new one.

Let's Brew - 1953 Elgood Strong Ale

I make a point of trying to collect new brewing records whenever I’m in the UK. On my last trip I managed to pick ones up from a couple of sources. One being Elgood.

I first asked the brewery if I could drop by a couple of years ago. The reason I hadn’t made it there until now is purely a question of the practicalities. Wisbech has no train station. Even though it isn’t that far from Newark, getting there by public transport is a nightmare. Luckily my mate Henry has a van and he drove me down.

Before we go any further, I’ll point out the problems that I had with this recipe. Basically, the numbers don’t add up. The grist consisted of 14 quarters, 93 barrels of water were used in mashing and sparging and there were 80 barrels of wort in the copper. But there were just 19.5 barrels in the fermenter. Where did the other 60 barrels of wort go? I can’t imagine it was thrown away.

To take this discrepancy into account, I’ve divided the hopping rate by four. And then reduced them some more because they were from the 1950 season. I know nothing else about them, other than that they were English. 5 of the 85 lbs really were added in the hop back.

The grist is almost as simple as it appears. There really just is a single base malt. The sugar in the original, however, is half invert and half something called Muntona.

The mashing scheme is an infusion stood at 149º F for 20 minutes followed by an underlet held at 152º F for 100 minutes. Then sparging, obviously.

1953 Elgood Strong Ale
pale malt 9.00 lb 90.00%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 10.00%
Fuggles 95 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles hop back 0.13 oz
OG 1047
FG 1017
ABV 3.97
Apparent attenuation 63.83%
IBU 20
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 167º F
Boil time 95 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Friday, 16 March 2018

On the management of Beer in private houses

Before WW I it was quite commonto buy in a cask of beer to drink at home. The newspapers were full of brewery adverts for exactly this purpose.

Yet I can't remember ever finding anything before about how casks were handled in this doemstic setting. Until now. It's a delightful insight into what used to be a common practice,

Of course, if you've ever handled a cask of beer you'll know that there's a lot more to serving it than banging in a tap and turning the tap on. It's no surprise, given that plenty of landlords cock up handling cask beer, that it was often mistreated in private homes.

"On the management of Beer in private houses
TO begin with, every consumer of beer must fully realise how many advantages pertain to the system of keeping one’s own cask of beer in the house, rather than sending out to the nearest publichouse every time a draught of beer is required, and for the following reasons. First and foremost the price charged by the publican is 25 per cent. over and above that charged by the family brewer; the inconvenience of making such trips, no matter what the weather; whilst the beer so obtained is seldom a family bitter ale at all, and the quantity must be a standard measure either more or less than is required, causing a slight waste in the former, or an unsatisfied appetite in the latter case.

These arguments may be met with some such replies as, “Oh, the beer does not keep in our house," or, “It is thick, and there is always a waste in the bottom of the cask.” To the first of these I would reply, “There are many good brands now offered to the public as near perfection as beer can possibly be." Notwithstanding all Messrs. Lawson, Quilter & Co. may say to the contrary, such beers are guaranteed, and do keep sound, as proved by the large private trades built up by such beers; whilst how many cases of thick beer and out of condition are caused by want of a little care on the consumer's part, which I will now endeavour to explain. Certainly there is no nation or people who appreciate more fully or better understand what a glass of really good beer is than the English, and yet how small a percentage take the least trouble to have their beer in good condition, the majority imagining that with the drayman placing the cask on the stand all need of any further care is at an end, and that what follows is a matter of chance, good or bad.

A little consideration, however, will prove how fallacious such an idea is; for although any amount of care and trouble bestowed will not make bad beer good, yet, with a modicum of attention and a few common sense practices, good beer may be preserved as such, instead of utterly spoiling same and returning to the brewer what has, through carelessness, become a muddy, sour article, very unsatisfactory to both consumer and brewer alike.

First, to begin with, the consumer usually takes in only a small cask, which small bulk is much more difficult to bring into sparkling (gaseous) condition, owing to the smaller amount of normal fermentable matter contained in so small a bulk (generally four and a half or nine gallons); such a quantity will also be more easily affected by temperature—either extreme heat or cold—both of which act detrimentally on beer, the former to force false ferments if present into active life and so set up putrefaction, whilst the latter produces flatness and general want of condition.

The small casks, too, are of such little weight that the least jarring or shake disturbs the whole, whilst the stands on which the casks are placed consists ofttimes of the most primitive arrangements, such as unsteady and shaking boxes, which are continually vibrating; as an extreme case, the beer cask is occasionally placed on a flat surface, such as a board, with the natural rolling and oscillation due from the introduction of a ball to a plain or flat surface. The cellars are very seldom cellars at all, for this useful store connected with the old-fashioned house has been wofully ignored in these days of jerry-building, and in consequence the beer cask is stowed in the most outrageous places, such as the closest of little cupboards, sometimes only separated from close friendship with the kitchen fire by the flimsiest apology for a wall ; and occasionally even the bedroom is made to serve the double purpose of beer cellar and sleeping apartment, which, if it proved of any advantage to the wakeful and thirsty occupant, is certainly not conducive to good beer; whilst, as an extreme case, I may mention that of a laundress who stored her ale on top of the copper lid, and when washing day came had it removed with regularity and precision worthy a better cause, and as a subsequent fact always had thick beer, in consequence of which she gave vent to the usual abuse of the brewer.

In dealing with wine it is possible to rack or fill it quite bright ; not so with beer, which under such circumstances would remain flat and undrinkable owing to the want of a little fermentable matter to keep up a mild discharge of carbonic acid gas, the same gas as soda water and such other effervescing drinks are charged with, which gives to beer its sparkling fresh ness, and which sedimentary matter will subside to the bottom of the cask if properly treated by being firmly set up and allowed a day or two to rest before drawing from for use."
The Brewers' Guardian 1893, page 173.

It's a sign of how little markup pubs made that fetching beer in a jug was only 25% more expensive than buying in a cask.

But I was particularly intrigued by this phrase: "the beer so obtained is seldom a family bitter ale at all". That's implying that what was usually drunk at home was Family Bitter. And what was the classic Family Bitter? AK, of course.

I'm slightly confused by the stuff about it being harder to bring a small cask into condition. Surely the proportion of unfermented sugars would be the same no matter what size the cask? Though it is true that a smaller cask would be more prone to become too cold or to overheat.

I love the complaint about houses being jerry-built. People always seem to moan about the same things, usually harking bacjk to a better past.

There's a part two which I'll post later.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

UK licensed brewers 1870 - 1914

More numbers. I've a whole bucketful of fresh ones I want to consume before they go off. ANd I need to bash out some posts to cover when I'm away in the UK later this week (last week, when you read this).

One of the tables in the Brewers' Almanack that I particularly like is the one that lists the number of breweries by size. It gives a good insight into the structure of the UK brewing industry and how it changed around the turn of the 20th century.

The UK used to have a ridiculous of breweries. Most of them very small. Most the the ones in the under 1,000 barrels a year category would have been brewing well under it. For example, in 1842 26,817 of the 44,208 breweries in the UK brewed fewer than 100 barrels a year. Of those 26,817 8,180 produced fewer than 20 barrels a year.* Bugger all even for a pub brewery.

Even in 1914, the number of breweries producing more than 20,000 barrels a year was only 334. And just 54 more than 100,000 barrels. Meaning that the industry was still very fragmented, with a very large number of small producers. The vast majority of which were pub breweries. 2,357 in 1914, to be precise.**

I'm surprised to see the number in the half million barrels category go up and down in the late 19th century. I'd have expected it to keep increasing.

Number of Persons in the UK licensed as Brewers for Sale
Year ended Sept. 30. Under 1,000. 1,000 and under 10,000. 10.000 and under 20,000. 20,000 and under 100,000. 100,000 and under 500,000. 500,000 and over.
1870 26,506 1,809 210 128 23 3
1875 21,181 1,864 260 194 25 4
1879 17,542 1,863 301 217 27 3
1880 16,770 1,768 272 203 23 4
1881 14,948 1,677 275 183 24 8
1885 12,608 1,537 270 187 27 4
1890 9,986 1,447 274 255 34 4
1895 7,213 1,162 267 256 34 5
1900 4,759 910 262 308 42 9
1905 3,787 832 232 280 40 9
1912 2,868 673 205 266 43 7
1913 2,760 615 210 271 42 8
1914 2,536 580 197 280 46 8
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 117.

Who were the breweries producing over half a million barrels? Some are pretty obvious, like Guinness, Bass and Allsopp. Others you may not have heard of. I happen to have the numbers for 1884.

Note that all but the top three were based in London.

Largest UK breweries in 1884
Brewery Beer Bands (barrels)
Guinness 1,300,000
Bass 1,000,000
Allsopp 850,000
Combe 500,000
Barclay 550,000
Watney 450,000
Truman 450,000
Charrington 400,000
Reid 350,000
Whitbread 300,000
Courage 300,000
Document ACC/2305/8/246 part of the Courage archive held at the London Metropolitan Archive
Output based on the cost of the brewing licence which was based on bands of output, the figure given is the top of the band into which the brewery's output fell.

Three of the breweries above, Watney, Combe and Reid, took part in the first big merger in 1898. Forming, er, Watney, Combe, Reid. A name which when I saw it on a pub door said "stay away" to me.

* "A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical, and Historical, of Commerce and Commercial Navigation" by John Ramsay McCulloch, 1844, page 9.

** 1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 118.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1939 Boddington IP

It’s fascinating to see how much a beer I drank myself changed over the years. Would I have recognised older versions of Boddington’s Bitter for what they were? Who knows. But I suspect not for any further back than maybe the 1960s.

Though I was struck by how similar the 1939 recipe is to the 1966 one. It contains all the same elements, just in different proportions. Even the sugars, for which I’ve substituted No. 2 invert, are much the same: 2 cwt. DMS, 2 cwt. Br, 1 cwt. Fl.

The hops were a combination of English, Oregon, and Styrian. The latter in such a small amount – 5 lbs from a total of 180 lbs – that I’ve left them out of the recipe. They were a mix of the 1937 and 1938 harvests. As most of the older hops had been in a cold store, I’ve left the quantities unchanged.

One big difference with later versions is the OG, a very respectable 1045º. It would never be that strong again. The rate of attenuation is on the way up, though it isn’t as high as after the war. I blame the enzymic malt in the grist.

Just let me know when you’re getting bored of Boddies Bitter recipes. It won’t stop me publishing, but it might make you feel a little better.

1939 Boddington IP
pale malt 6.25 lb 71.43%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 2.86%
wheat flaked 0.25 lb 2.86%
flaked maize 1.50 lb 17.14%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.50 lb 5.71%
Cluster 120 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 120 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1045
FG 1010
ABV 4.63
Apparent attenuation 77.78%
IBU 45
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61.5º F
Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

UK Hop acreage by region 1914 - 1921

Numbers, numners, numbers. They're so much easier to deal with than words. And people.

I've got so many numbers, it's really hard to keep track. Especially of the hop ones, where I've harvested ones in multiple different formats.

The Hop Control Board was established in 1917 after the government had forced hop growers to grub up half their hop bines nad grow food instead. The Board bought the whole of the crop and then sold it on to brewers. During the war the idea was to protect what was left of the hop industry. After it, to help it rebuild and get the acreage back to pre-war levels.

The Hop Controller also fixed the price of English hops. By keeping the price relatively high and not allowing any foreign hops to be purchased by brewers until the whole of the UK crop had been sold, they hoped to prevent a flood of cheap imported hops. The higher the price, the greater the acreage that would be planted, was the reasoning.

It worked to a certain extent, but not 100%. Interwar hope acreage peaked at 26,452 in 1922. It remained at 23,000-25,000 acres for the rest of the 1920's, but fell to around 18,000 acres for most of the 1930s. Or about half the pre-WW I level.*

What is it now? Far, far less. In 2010, just 2,644 acres, or about 10% of what it had been in 1921.**

UK Hop acreage by region 1914 - 1921
Counties. 1921 1920 1919 1914 1914-1921
Kent- Acres. Acres. Acres. Acres. % lost
East 4,000 3,260 2,530 6,174 35.21%
Mid 5,420 4,520 3,650 7,604 28.72%
Weald 6,640 5,710 4,380 8,848 24.95%
Total 16,060 13,490 10,500 22,626 29.02%
Hants 1,040 840 700 1,580 34.18%
Hereford 3,510 2,990 2,420 5,507 36.26%
Surrey 200 170 180 585 65.81%
Sussex 2,270 1,790 1,410 3,038 25.28%
Worcester 1,900 1,680 1,370 3,194 40.51%
Other Counties 60 60 50 133 54.89%
Total 25,120 21,000 16,750 36,661 31.48%
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 107.

Note how uneven the fall in acreage was in different regions. Kent and Sussex fare better than average, everywhere else, worse. It looks to me like marginal hop-growing areas just couldn't be bothered to start up again.

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 63.
** Barth Hop Market Telegram June 2011

Monday, 12 March 2018

Fall in on-licences 1905 - 1920

Time for yet more numbers. All culled from my new favourite book, the 1922 Brewers' Almanack.

If you think pub closures are bad currently, you should take a look at what happened just before WW I. The 1904 Licensing Act, introduced by a Liberal government with strong links to the temperance movement, gave Licensing Magistrates powers to refuse the renewal of licences for a vairiety of reasons. For example, if it was thought that there morepubs in an area than necessary. Licences could also be refused if a pub was considered to harbour thieves or if its trade was considered inefficient.

Temperance nutcases were obsessed with pubs providing unnecessary tempatation and loved having them closed down. They were helped by temperance advocates being Licensing Magistrates while members of the pub and brewing trade were prohibited from doing so. It lead to a very large number of pub closuress , as you can see in the table.

Licence holders of pubs deemed superfluous to requirements were usually paid compensation, this being the equivalent to the difference in value of the premises with and without a licence. Ones closed for breaking the rules received none. The compensation was paid from a levy imposed on licences.

Funnily enough, the pace of closures slowed after the outbreak of WW I. For the 15 years covered, an average of just over 1,000 pubs closed annually, with very small numbers of new licences being issued. That's an average of 20 a week. Getting a new licence became extremely difficult. A situation that continued until the 1970s.

For example, if a brewery wanted to build a new pub on an estate, it generally had to surrender one or more licences, usually in inner-city areas considered to have too many pubs.

Fall in on-licences 1905 - 1920
Year ended Dec. 31. Refused with compensation. Refused without compensation Licences lapsed New licences granted. Net decrease.
1905 194 80 363 53 584
1906 892 69 435 56 1,340
1907 1,735 48 322 68 2,037
1908 1,236 30 253 47 1,472
1909 1,290 35 286 60 1,561
1910 993 27 250 33 1,237
1911 978 20 444 44 1,398
1912 849 18 296 53 1,110
1913 842 24 265 52 1,079
1914 844 13 225 48 1,034
1915 574 11 177 25 737
1916 383 22 239 28 616
1917 353 34 271 29 629
1918 400 19 195 14 600
1919 498 11 247 54 702
1920 526 11 340 71 806
Totals 12,587 472 4,608 725 16,942
Averages 787 30 288 45 1,059
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 100.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

UK beer exports by destination 1890 - 1921

Perspective is an interesting thing. Especially with regard to our own personal event horizon. The point in the past we personally experienced. Or drank, turning the thought to beer.

There are other limits. In my mind, the 1890's and 1920's are two different worlds. Yet there were only 30 years apart. That's as long as I've lived in Amsterdam. Not that long, really. But I still find the Berwers' Almanacks from the 1920s a bit weird, the way they stretch back to Victoria's reign.

Still obsessing over my latest book of numbers acquisition. Desperate for quick posts.looking to point out the same points again. Any or all of these could be true. And the motivation behind this post. Or I've had an Abt too many.

The numbers do subtly make some points. The decline in the Australasian and South African markets just before WW I. The robustness of demand in India. Doubtless thirsty squaddies. Then there's the weird total collapse of sales to the USA in 1919. How do you explain that?

UK beer exports by destination 1890 - 1921
Country 1890 1900 1910 1919 1920 1921
United States 48,991 47,700 69,688 28 - -
Egypt 6,591 18,597 20,000 10,408 9,796 11,600
British Possessions in S. Africa 25,582 31,446 5,937 464 3,302 1,233
British W. Indies and Guiana 26,882 18,794 21,726 5,159 13,688 6,483
India 97,196 94,918 96,914 23,776 60,751 45,554
Straits Settlements - - - 7,928 22,063 6,588
Australasia and N.Z. 147,014 96,785 90,416 5,291 18,199 11,170
Other Countries 150,565 202,605 285,065 177,642 262,449 177,042
Total 502,921 510,845 590,346 231,673 390,248 259,670
Brewers' Almanack 1922, page 114.